Dance King Jason Gilkison Makes His Move
BY Greg Archer
January 14 2009 1:00 AM ET
Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can
Dance have a hot new reality TV sibling in
NBC’s choreo-spastic Superstars of Dance, and that makes Jason Gilkison very happy. The
out, world-renowned ballroom dancer and choreographer
(Burn the Floor) from Down Under is captain
of Dance’s Australian contingent in the
competition show that finds eight countries sweating
for the gold -- Think “Olympics of
Dance” with a mega-caffeine buzz.)
mate that he is, survives a good grilling from judges
about his stylistic choices in the festive soiree, the love
child of American Idol titans Nigel Lythgoe and Simon
Gilkison comes across as a real pro. But growing up around a
glut of frilly tulles back in Perth, Australia, where his
family ran a dance studio, must have prepped him well
for that. Perhaps it was his Scottish grandfather, who
established Australia’s first ballroom dance
studio in 1931?
Learning how to
dance at the age of 5 didn’t hurt. Nor did teaming up
-- at that same age -- with Peta Roby, who would
become his lifelong dance partner. The duo eventually
became the hottest competitive dance couple around --
undefeated dance champions for 16 years during the
’80s and ’90s.
Advocate.com exclusive, Gilkison, 42, chats about the new
reality show, his choreographer and judging duties in
the Australian and American versions of So You
Think You Can Dance, and why he’s (so
mad) so hot about ballroom dance.
Advocate.com:Superstars of Dance -- hardly dull and generating
tons of buzz.Jason Gilkison: There was a rumor in the
pipeline, for about 12 months, that there was this
“Olympics of Dance” that Nigel Lythgoe
had in the back of his mind, where he would bring all
these countries together. And all of a sudden, in November,
we got this phone call, and in December it was a go.
We had to scramble to get visas [for all the dancers].
I can’t believe he pulled it off really. You have
these dancers -- from Lord of the Dance, people from
Bollywood and Forever Tango -- and all
these different acts that we’re normally used
to Googling on You
Tube to watch. And to see it all in the same room
at the same time, competing against each other, was
You know the results? Yes, I do.
And you’re sworn to secrecy? Yes, I am ... and I will tell you, Australia had
Who in Superstars is your biggest competition? I think going in, everybody said, “How is
anybody going to beat America?” But
Ireland’s team was ridiculously strong, and in the
beginning we said, “Maybe we’re worried
about the wrong team.” Those were the two countries
where we went, “Wow, they are the ones to
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